God's Absence is Not Nothing: Thinking the Ab-solute Otherwise Restricted; Files Only

Gay, Ashley Marie (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/4b29b654j?locale=en
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Abstract

The discourse of God's absence alters both (1) the mission and manner of our thinking about God, and (2) our conceptions of holiness as separation. The holy as 'set apart' cannot be distinguished as an object present to possessive thinking, nor an object presented to others as absolute truth. Therefore, holiness--as conceived in discussions of God's absence or absolution--does not legitimate separation as invulnerability. Correspondingly the designation of God as "absolute" must be read apophatically as "ab-solute" to mark what ab-sence does to theological thinking. In conversation with philosophers and theologians, this dissertation argues that the ab-soluteness of the holy critiques our claims of:

· Abstraction--as if God were an essence, accessed only in one's rejection of mortality (Rosenzweig)

· Univocality--as if God were a calculation, universally accepted and adequate to our thinking (Heidegger)

· Ideology--as if God were an idea that could be digested, possessed, or forced, for our satisfaction (Weil)

· Totality--as if God were preserved by negating the transcendence of beings, or by evoking the neutrality of Being (Levinas)

· Purity--as if God were the basis for false dichotomies (Lacoste)

· Ultimacy--as if God's unambiguous reality rendered us capable of unambiguously representing God (Tillich)

These are illusory modes for any thinking the holy. God's holiness, as ab-solute, withdraws from these illusions; however, God's elusive absence is not their negation, nor sheer nothingness. Because the holy's ab-solution is neither reducible to God's presence to thought, nor adequated to our thinking of absence, it forges another mode for thinking: the allusive. The allusive mode thinks the way in which God's absence takes on a certain presence in our encounters with alterity. These encounters with alterity--whether poetic, aesthetic, ethical, liturgical, or symbolic--allude to the God that both eludes and refigures the desire for relationship. Holiness thus becomes the possibility to host what eludes thinking, even as this ab-solution entices thought into its most rigorous patience and humility. God's absence is not nothing. It is rather the gift of an expansive evacuation that opens thought, not to security or satisfaction, but to love.

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION I. THE TRUTH: THE WAY, AWAY...................................................1 II. THE ABSOLUTE: OUR ABSTRACTIONS, GOD'S ABSENCE..........22

CHAPTER ONE

ILLUSION: LIMITATIONS OF THE ABSOLUTE

INRODUCTION.......................................................................28 I. Martin Heidegger:

THE ILLUSION OF CALCULATIVE THINKING................................34

II. Simone Weil: THE ILLUSION OF Attachment..................................................60 III. EMMANUEL LEVINAS: THE ILLUSION OF TOTALITY.....................................................74

IV. JEAN YVES-LACOSTE:

THE ILLUSION OF PURITY........................................................89 V. Paul Tillich: The Illusion of the Demonic....................................................102

CHAPTER TWO

ALLUSION: THRESHOLD OF THE INSOLUBLE

INRODUCTION.....................................................................115 I. Martin Heidegger: THE ALLUSIVE STRUCTURE OF POETICS..................................122 II. Simone Weil: THE ALLUSIVE STRUCTURE OF METAXU...................................140 III. EMMANUEL LEVINAS: THE ALLUSIVE STRUCTURE OF ETHICS....................................154

IV. JEAN YVES-LACOSTE:

THE ALLUSIVE STRUCTURE OF LITURGY...................................172

V. Paul Tillich:

THE ALLUSIVE STRUCTURE OF SYMBOLS..................................189

CHAPTER THREE

ELUSION: DISTANCE OF THE AB-SOLUTE INRODUCTION......................................................................204 I. Martin Heidegger: THE ELUSION OF THE LAST GOD.............................................212 II. Simone Weil: THE ELUSION OF THE GO(o)D.................................................232

III. EMMANUEL LEVINAS:

THE ELUSION OF THE INFINITE...............................................245

IV. JEAN YVES-LACOSTE:

THE ELUSION OF THE ESCHATON............................................259 V. Paul Tillich: The ELUSION OF THE ABYSS...................................................276 CONCLUSION........................................................................293 BIBLIOGRAPHY......................................................................307

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